The Silver Lining
By Dave Rhea
The past couple of months have been devastating in a multitude of ways. We’ve re-arranged our offices at home and tried to figure out how to stock our refrigerators without risking our lives. Perhaps some of our fellow Club 29 members have experienced disruptions in employment – whether as an employer or as an employee. The news channels churn out accounts of spikes and plateaus in the Coronavirus curve, climbing contractions and deaths, and seemingly always paired with accounts of endless political posturing and bickering.
However, there is – at least in my experience – a sweet, silver lining in all of this chaos. I’m not very old, but I’m also not very young. That puts me in what I’ve always heard as the unenviable position of having teenaged children. I’m a single dad with two sons who are 16 and 12 years old.
Now, before you send your condolences, let me explain that the silver lining is not the color to which my hair is turning because of such an arrangement. Rather, this extended time sequestered in our home has changed the dynamic of our lives in many ways, one of which is that my boys and I are together much more than usual.
As my older boy, Campbell, careens ever so abruptly toward full manhood, the nature of our relationship has changed. He isn’t difficult, but his personality is different. He’s more private. I admit that I could even say he has become a little standoffish. At this age, it is to be expected, but I often find myself wondering what’s on his mind – and anyone who has or had a teenaged child knows that merely asking is far from an effective way to receive such clarity.
How’s it going, son?
What did you do today?
My younger boy, Cash, seems to feel like his lot in life is to live in the shadow of his older brother, who is by nature of his older age, smarter, stronger, faster, taller, and so on. Cash is of the age where he’s still childish – in the best sense of the word – and he’s continually getting more and more interesting as an emerging young man. Yet, I can see him flailing as he tries in vain to keep up with Campbell. It seems like he’s figuratively tippy-toeing in an effort to be bigger.
That is probably a very familiar scenario to many others who have experienced kids at this age. But right now, things are very different – again, in the best sense of the word. They can’t go to school and I can’t go to the office. None of us can have friends over. Thus, we’re forced to be together for uncharacteristically extended periods of time.
The result has been surprisingly wonderful! It’s not lost on me that these boys, who seem to be growing up in fast-forward mode, will be gone soon, and I’ll be left in my empty nest. During this time in our lives when it’s arguably most important to have a solid connection, these strange and unforeseen circumstances have allowed us the time and leisure to become even closer as a family.
Coronavirus, with all its disruptive treachery, has given my boys and me a true silver lining – an abundance of “together time.” We have laughed and talked and teamed up together. We’ve cooked together and written songs together in our home studio. The sibling rivalry has ratcheted down. We’ve dug out old boxes from my younger years and discussed the heady notion of setting goals and dreaming dreams, even as they laughed at how weird I looked with whatever style I had (or didn’t have) “back in the day.”
In this regard, and admittedly in a selfish way, sheltering at home has a silver lining. Although I, like everyone, am chomping at the bit to get back out in the world, this time together has been a gift that I will never forget.